Mold and mildew tend to appear and flourish in areas that are wet, humid and damp. Although most commonly found in bathrooms, mold and mildew show up in basements and attics, and can also be found on porous surfaces like wood, concrete and pavers. Indoors, mold thrives when moist areas are not properly ventilated; outdoors it thrives when there is constant moisture, humidity and heat.
Mold is most noticeable in your bathroom because of the high levels of humidity confined in this small space. It is found in corners and bases of your shower, along tile joints and on caulking. Leaky toilets, sinks and plumbing pipes also increase the likelihood that mold will accumulate in your bathroom. Elements of wood, wallpaper and fabric will also contribute to mold growth.
How do you know you have a mold problem? If you can see it or smell it, you have it. Although bathroom mold is not always clear to see, you should look under sinks, in access doors adjacent to your shower or bathroom fixtures, around exhaust fans, and even in crawl spaces or in the basement under your bathroom.
The best way to prevent mold is to stop it from happening in the first place. If you have a bathroom exhaust fan, use it when you shower or take a bath, and leave it on for about 30 minutes after you leave the bathroom. Removing moisture from the bathroom is one of the greatest things you can do to reduce the chances of mold growth.
If you don’t have a bathroom exhaust fan, chances are you have a window. It is a good idea to crack open your window to help circulate air and dry the room more efficiently.
Try to dry toys, shampoo and body wash bottles with a towel, or even paper towel before leaving the bathroom. Allow loofas to dry outside of the shower, as they provide additional surfaces for mold to grow on.
It is a good idea to dry wet towels outside the bathroom. Place hooks behind the doors of your bedrooms and have towels dry for each person in their own room. This will also provide the opportunity to reuse towels for the next time – it’s environmentally conscious and a good green practice.
Remember to wash your bathroom rugs frequently. They are typically heavier than towels and maintain moisture in the bathroom long beyond shower time. Over time, mold, and germs, can develop within the fibers creating a smell and the potential for mold growth.
Use mildew resistant shower liners, and wash or replace them frequently. Try to stretch out your shower curtain after showering to prevent mold from growing in the folds.
Try to keep household humidity levels below 50%. Either your central air conditioning system, a nearby window unit or a dehumidifier can help.
If you have a hand shower, rinse the walls and corners of your shower stall or bathtub to remove any extra soap, shampoo and conditioner that may get stuck in the corners. The oils and wax in these personal care items traps mold if not properly rinsed away after showering.
Clean and dust your bathroom at least once a week, as dust is a food source for mold. During your weekly deep clean, use a spray bottle with a mix of 70% water and 30% bleach and apply to the walls. Leave on for 2 to 3 minutes, then rinse with water. This will eliminate any mold spores.
Have mold? As long as the mold is on the surface, and the infestation isn’t too large, you can attempt to remedy it yourself by cleaning your bathroom with mold killing solutions and cleaners like bleach, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Just be careful not to mix those products as they may cause a toxic reaction. By stripping away and replacing any caulking or sealant where you see mold, you will completely rid the mold without having to clean it. And lastly, try to open windows and doors after cleaning to provide ventilation and help dry out the surfaces more quickly.
Consider routinely checking your leaks in your bathroom by feeling around pipes and seals under your sink and by the toilet. If you notice your hands are wet, call a plumber before it worsens. Clear your slow drains, as these too can cause mold to grow in your bathroom.
If it is time to freshen up your bathroom, consider using a semi-gloss paint that is moisture resistant, easier to clean and creates a harder surface. This makes it more difficult for mold to grow.
If you have an area affected by mold that is bigger than 10 square feet, it is recommended that you call a professional who can assist in identifying the exact type of mold you are dealing with, and what the proper abatement procedures are.
If you notice mold building up on your walls or insulation, do not handle it yourself. The improper handling of mold can lead to releasing mold spores through your entire house, creating an even bigger issue than you had in the first place.
Max Mannino, President – Tri-Star Construction & Home Improvement
(718) 815-1800 www.tri-starconstruction.com